Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Camera Obscura

—Photo by Robin Gale Odam

—Robin Gale Odam, Sacramento

It started with high, sweet notes
and rich amber harmony, for contrast. 
As I composed, the song told me
I was mistaken, told me how it
breathed in sorrow, how it was
a keeper of burdens, how its voice
was dark, how sweetness was a bane
to conceal or transpose or forget and,
although I begged it to reconsider,
it bade me to darken it.

(first pub. in Brevities, 2011)


—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove
Bought it at a store that wasn’t
There the next time.
Pictures are all in black and white
Or sepia: whole families posed
And somber on wooden porches
And uncomfortable-looking
Hats, frock coats, prairie
Dresses, old men in soldier
Uniforms, long beards, missing
Limbs.  There are people who
Look vaguely like actors I should
Know, but cannot name, standing
Heroically before screens
Of painted palms.
No color; nothing contemporary.
But my camera is old,
And so is the photographer.


—Caschwa, Sacramento

11. When he shot himself in the head,
He missed and hit the moon —D.R. Wagner*

People usually do only a
Couple things in the head
Both with the goal of
Realizing a feeling of relief

Discharging a firearm or
Shooting up drugs could
Be added to the pile of
Things to do in the head

It might be a small wooden
Out building with a sliver of
A moon carved in its side,
room for just one visitor

Or it might be a larger public
Facility where the typical moon
Would be the hind side of a
Guest with their pants down

Unfortunately missing in the
Head is an ongoing problem
That men of all classes leave
For the lowest class to remedy

*See last Saturday's post,
Medusa's Kitchen


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

                (after Elihu Burritt)

The camera shows a brick wall shadowed
with sun, an image not quite mute to mood
and history. How much farther the mind
travels. 1866, Black Country. A girl of 12
clutches a mound of wet mud, lugging it
to the brick-molding table. Not yet mid-
morning, already she’s plastered with clay
so she looks like a moving statue—ancient
figure wrapped in fabric that clings to reveal
the human form; no way to separate girl
from muddy cloth. In my mind I see
the scene entire. Raw light without flash-
bulb to distinguish coal-gray mud from
shadow. This girl has no claim to delights
of childhood. Twelve hours a day hauling
30,000 pounds of clay. The camera shows
me bricks set in their places in a wall.


—Taylor Graham

The canyon’s deep-chiseled, shadowed
with sage-green and ochre. A horseshoe shines
in bas-relief. Each with its reason knitted

to the absurdity of dream where anything’s
possible, where I make allowance
for parents disappearing inside a dog

who’s about to go airborne—actual kinesthetic
flight without feathers. Will they crash,
or make it to the far edge, the light? A horse-

shoe holds gravity with or without luck,
sure as the possibility of waking
from dream to morning. Not chiseled in stone.


—Taylor Graham

Porchlights keep everything upright on this
sleeping street. A black car dreams. No moon
as guardian of the shadowed shoulders, hedges
edging solid walls. Bark-beetle tunnels
showing through every surface. Did someone
steal the moon when it was full of silver,
leaving nothing but colors too surreal to last
past waking; more vivid than daylight?
If you turn a key in the lock, it sends the colors
scurrying to their dens like night creatures
where only a poet or a dreamer can find them.


Today's LittleNip:

And I'm sure after Facebook it will be the little cameras that we have implanted into the palms of our hands and we'll be debating whether we should get them, and then we'll all get them.

—Jesse Eisenberg



Glass Topography
—Photo by Taylor Graham